Didy has a fridge magnet that says “Do something that scares you every day”. I keep telling her that waking up scares me! Surfing through the narrow breakwater into Marina Ixtapa was one of those pucker factor moments. I was down below talking to the marina and heard the engine start to scream and looking out the companion way hatch was the concerned face of the ships master! A face seldom seen!! Of course the old surfie dude did a magnificent job and yes, Stolen Kiss surfs very well! Practice for the bar entrance in Bahia del Sol???? Whilst I do the driving in the marinas, there is never a question as to who takes the helm in potential tricky situations!!!
Peter looked for a flag at the entrance, but the pole was bare; we certainly saw it flying (yellow for caution) off the marina office on our arrival into our slip (as opposed to pen!). The marina entrance is only wide enough for one boat and predominately faces the swell direction, which was a mere 1m at best; a shallow spot inside the entrance kicks up a wave (this one not breaking). I guess we just picked the wrong moment as there was no surf on our approach. Sneaky little suckers….they do that!
The marina is a little pricey but we have batteries to sort out and land travel to do. With the added company of crocodiles, what a bargain! The crocodiles here are around 6 feet; small and somewhat perhaps more docile (they don’t seem to eat people here) than their Australian cousins.
Other marina companions make for interesting walks.
After much reading, internet research and emails to those who know about batteries, (http://www.batterystuff.com) Peter decided that they needed to be equalized (which we should be doing on a month to month basis) then desulphated. Apparently batteries that sit a while in a hot environment become sulphated. We have ordered a desulphator on line that we hope will arrive in Hautulco before we get there. Interesting thing is that Bill (our old cruising buddy for over 10,000 miles!) had this theory and he purchased a desulphator…..and we thought that there was not much to his theory!! Live and learn all the time.
Although we enjoyed anchored in the lagoon at Bahia de Navidad, our departure was somewhat timely as 25 knot winds whistled through the anchorage nearly every day, causing much dragging. Not fun!
Santiago Bay and Las Hadas in the Manzanillo district was a mere 25nm to the south east of Navidiad; an easy sail. Nordsail 1 had left a few days earlier and we caught up with John in Santiago Bay; long sandy beach and excellent protection! The great beaches were also the attraction of the Mexicans on holiday, whom have adopted the Latino approach to life…… inventing the concept of play and party! Although a somewhat noisy anchorage during the day, it was quiet at night.
The beach culture in Mexico is very much alive in many respects. Hole digging appears to be an extensive past time and many take serious shovels to the beach….the garden variety type! Imagine it would be a little dangerous jogging along the beach in the evening or early morning. Lucky we don’t jog!
Heavily armed navy men patrol the beach on foot, for what reason we did not ascertain.
One can also shop whilst having lunch, walking along the beach or sitting in a hole!
Just around the corner from Santiago Bay is Manzanillo
and the Las Hadas anchorage, which was a bit of a treat as although we were overshadowed by ‘’disneyesque” type developments, the walks around the hills on the cobbled streets provided good exercise and numerous opportunities to slip into resorts and have a discrete swim! On one of our walks we happened upon a Mexican gentleman of some 68 years old, not looking a day over 50. An Indian man whose tribe lived north in the desert, moved to Manzanillo when he was young, taught himself Spanish, then later English and does not want to move to any other country to learn another language! We all walked along chatting about life and the world that it is and agreed that Mexico indeed is a wonderful place, as are the people.
Las Hadas Marina (cheapest fuel on the Mexican coast with the worst fuel dock!) is very run down, with only Med moore type options in a small pond which has a good surge through it if there is any swell.
New Year was a quiet night on the beautiful Nordsail 1 (the first Nordsail motor yacht) with John and another single hander, Scott from At Last. We returned to Stolen Kiss before midnight to watch the amazing fireworks that surrounded us in the small anchorage and extended 4 miles across the bay to Manzanillo.
Sitting on deck in anticipation, we noticed a small harbour boat not far from us, naively thinking that it was there to make sure the local boats were out behaving themselves. Got a bit of a fright when we heard the first woosh, thump sound of a large fire work going off! We were lit up like a xmas tree!!!! Lucky the wind was blowing away from us! Peter was giving a running commentary of a torch light running to the back of the boat, then retreating forward very fast as the firework launched into oblivion. This was almost as entertaining as the fireworks themselves!! After half an hour we were cold and had sore necks!!
As the local bus stops right outside the Las Hadas Marina Resort, transport to the nearby towns, Walmart, Mega and other places that one might need to go, was so easy. Whilst we found very little attraction in Manzanillo, Santiago was a great little town to wander around.
On departing Las Hadas (should have stayed and helped John re-fuel) and expecting a nice following sea breeze, we ran into S/SE headwinds with the occasional swell that almost stopped the boat. There was a lot of tidal influence which further disturbed the sea, even though we were 10 miles off the coast. The winds were around 15-18 knots by late afternoon, but nothing like home. A big decision….do we keep bashing south or pull into a rolly anchorage??? Tacking around Punta Cazeba Negro (and two large whales) took us close to the anchorage, so on dusk we decided to pull in and see what happens. We managed a little rest, after stuffing the cupboards with anything to stop the rattling and Peter sitting under the table trying to work out how to stop it squeaking. In reality it was not that bad, but by midnight, when the wind swung to the NE, it was time to go.
On noises, the major one we have been trying to sort out is the octopus pump on the autopilot. Our final email from the manufacturers is that Peter’s installation is excellent (we are hoping his installation to be published soon in Cruising Helmsman) and most people are happy with the small amperage it draws!! Its location….aft cabin! Bugger! Can’t imagine the sound it will make with a big sea running behind us!
The whole world changes in 6 hours and like icebergs, whales disappear at night! We had the company of the Mexican Navy and ships out to sea from us, and the whales between us and the land. Easy peasy…
Lazaro Cardenas, a major port some 31 miles NW of Ixtapa offered a welcomed rest from the engine.
There is a small cove lined with mangroves just to starboard of the entrance. We found fairway buoy and the channel marks at night without too much bother (although our approach was not so savvy as we were too close in and found ourselves 3 miles out in 4m of water….sand bar extends a long way out!); we managed to time our entry and exit in between ships. Nice, flat calm, albeit a very dirty boat in the morning and none of the reported petrochemical smells. There are many pangas going in and out of the harbour, as it is a river mouth. We had one panga stop by just after we anchored wanting fuel and another, amazingly knocking on our hull at 0200 wanting the same. We would have given them some had we had any in our jerry jugs and found it more amusing than annoying that we would be woken at such a time. Reminded us of Indonesia…..
Another 200 miles further south at Ixtapa/Zihuatenjo, we have rounded yet another cape and are in the world of SW swells, gentle land and sea breezes and rolly anchorages. Of course less wind now equates to more motoring, which is what we mostly did sailing to Ixtapa.
Isle Grande, Ixtapa is another playground for the Mexican people. Jet skis and banana boats a plenty during the day with palapa lined beaches on the small island. However around 1700 hours, the punters all return to the mainland, leaving a quiet and peaceful anchorage until late morning the following day. We were there being entertained by the passing parade with two other yachts. A Dutch woman, older than us, rowed over on her way back from the beach. She is single handing around the world (3rd time) on her way back to the Netherlands. Her buddy boat…her husband who is doing the same on his boat!! She was waiting for him to arrive as his boat is smaller!!! She only turns the motor on when boat speed drops to 1.5 knots. They met some time ago single-handing, tried to sail together on the same boat……it worked better each having their own! We were gobsmacked!
Ixtapa is a welcomed break from all that is Mexican, with some great restaurants and a long sandy beach to play on; Peter can enjoy the surf every day.
We are still looking for Peter’s sandals but don’t feel so bad now as one of the cruiser’s we met told us of the $10,000 he hid in the engine compartment of a previous boat, only never to find it when he sold the boat! Some very lucky owner has this stash somewhere….if only he/she knows!!!!! Now that would be a find!!!!!!!!!
Land travel to Mexico City is on the agenda to look at some ancient pyramids and to visit Morelia to see the Monarch Butterflies. Bus travel in Mexico is fabulous and like no other!
In the meantime, I keep telling Peter he is dreaming!!